Four persons have been arrested by operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT over alleged attempts to smuggle 11,000 litres of suspected stolen crude oil into Lagos.
The suspects, alleged to be members of Tantita Security Limited, were identified as Asonja Goddey, 28, Obajimi Oluwaseyifunmi, 38, Awoowo Aribo, 35, and Oluwadaisi Balogun, 40, were arrested on August 29, near Itolu community, Ibeju Lekki on the waterways.
The fifth person said to be the Chief Security Officer (CSO), Owoyele Omotuyi, was also detained by the Navy after he sought to take the suspects on bail.
According to the Navy, the suspects were apprehended following a distress call from members of the Itolu community, who alerted the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Lekki of sounds of gunshots and an alleged hijack of an outboard engine boat belonging to one Ishola Ojubuyi, 42.
Parading the suspects at Apapa on Thursday, August 31, the Commander NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Kolawole Oguntuga, said his men swiftly acted on the distress call, adding that they arrested the four suspects were dressed in black tees with TANTITA inscribed in the back.
He said the suspects were trying to recover a dismantled outboard engine from a local.
Oguntuga said: “The team recovered the engine and apprehended the four Tantita employees. It was after this arrest that the Patrol Team realized that the four individuals are part of a movement of a large wooden boat with two fiber boats.
“The four arrested individuals beckoned on the two fiber boats to approach them but when they noticed NN patrol teams, the boats altered courses, fled and abandoned the large wooden boat laden with 11 x 1000L Geepee tanks with products suspected to be stolen crude oil.
“The Nigerian Navy has initiated an investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident particularly the possession of firearms used in the community, economic sabotage, how the product came from Ondo to Lagos state as well as attempting to steal a boat engine from the locals.
“One Mr Owoyele Omotuyi, who was identified as a Tantita staff, came to secure the release of the four apprehended, claiming they are Tantita employees.
“All suspects along with the confiscated exhibits, will be handed over to appropriate agencies for further necessary action and prosecution.
“The Nigerian Navy under the watch of Vice Admiral EI Ogalla, Chief of the Naval Staff, remains resolute towards ensuring the maritime environment is conducive for legitimate businesses necessary for the economic prosperity of the nation.”
Reacting to the arrest, TANTITA’s coordinator in Ondo state, Chief Idowu Asonja, in a statement claimed that the suspects were not involved in the crime but apprehended the wooden boats.
He described as pathetic and worrisome, the arrest of the suspects, alleging that the Navy had earlier paraded the boat and later released it.
However, one of the paraded suspects, told newsmen that they were on illegal duty, adding that some operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) who were with them, fled when they saw the naval operatives coming.